What Your Body is Saying About Your Gut
Unhealthy Gut and its Detriments
It’s hardly news to learn that the gut is associated your immune system and overall health. This is an interesting fact that many aren’t aware of — your gut is associated to your immune system and your overall health. In fact, numerous studies in the past two decades have demonstrated links between gut health and the immune system, mood, mental health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, and cancer.
The term “gut microbiome” refers to the microorganisms living in your stomach and intestines, or the gut and has an average of 300 to 500 different species of bacteria. Everyone’s microbiome is unique, but there are generalities that distinguish what’s healthy and what’s not.
A study on gut microbiome featured in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology revealed that having an extensive variety of these good bacteria in your gut can improve your immune system, improve symptoms of depression, help combat obesity, and provide numerous other benefits.
Signs of an unhealthy gut
There are a number of ways to identify if you have an unhealthy gut, it might manifest itself through the following signs:
1. Upset stomach
Experiencing upset stomach like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and heartburn can all be symptoms of an unhealthy gut. To compare, a balanced gut has less difficulty in processing food and eliminating waste.
2. A high-sugar diet
When your diet is high in processed foods and added sugars, it decreases the amount of good bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can cause increased sugar cravings, which can damage your gut even further. Large quantities of refined sugar, particularly high-fructose corn syrup — the detriment of health, has been linked to increased inflammation in the body, and inflammation can be the precursor to a number of diseases and even cancers.
3. Unintentional weight changes
Weight fluctuations without any changes to your diet or exercise habits could also be your body’s way of telling you that you have an unhealthy gut. When your gut is imbalanced, it has trouble absorbing the nutrients, regulate blood sugar and store fat. So, sudden weight gain may be caused by insulin resistance or the urge to overeat due to decreased nutrient absorption while weight loss can be attributed to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
4. Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue
The majority of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut and when your gut is unhealthy, insomnia and poor sleep is the result. Some sleep disturbances have also been linked to risk for fibromyalgia.
5. Skin irritation
If you find yourself with itchy and sensitive skin conditions like eczema, it could very well be a product of a damaged gut. The inflammation in the gut is caused by a poor eating habit or food allergies which sees “leaking” of certain proteins out into the body, which can in turn, reflect on the skin.
6. Autoimmune conditions
The search for new evidence of the impact of the gut on the immune system is a continual process by medical researchers. It’s believed that unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and alter how the immune system naturally functions, and lead to autoimmune diseases where the body attacks itself rather than harmful invaders.
7. Food intolerances
Food intolerances happen when your body finds it a feat to digest particular food, which is contrasting to food allergy, which is caused by an immune system reaction to certain food. The intolerance you experience could be related to the poor gut bacterias which has a hard time digesting trigger food. The body then presents symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and nausea. There is some evidence that food allergies may also be related to gut health.
8. Food cravings
While the saying goes, listen to your body; it isn’t always the case. For instance, craving for sugar can lead to more “bad” bacteria in the gut and dysbiosis (microbial imbalance).
9. Mood issues
There is a well-documented link between the gut and the brain, and its impact could very well extend to mood. Strange right? A review conducted discovered that gut disturbances and inflammation in the central nervous system could potentially cause anxiety and depression, and that probiotics may help with these conditions.
While not very explicit, a review disclosed that the gut-brain connection may impact migraines too, including a link between migraines and other conditions related to gut health, like IBS.
Things you can do to create a healthy gut flora
1. Lower your stress levels
Chronic high levels of stress are as hard on the body as it is your gut. Ways to lower stress include meditation, walking, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, diffusing essential oils, decreasing caffeine intake, laughing, yoga, or having a pet. Follow this link for 10 ways to reduce feeling stressed.
2. Get enough sleep
A good sleep cycle helps the body with most of its woes. Insufficient or the lack of quality sleep can have serious detriments on your gut health, which exacerbates your sleep issues. Prioritise at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Your doctor may be able to help if you have trouble sleeping.
3. Eat slowly
Refrain from chowing down your food, however delicious they may be. Chew thoroughly and eat your meals slowly to promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients. As a result, you reduce digestive discomfort and maintain a healthy gut.
4. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is a simple way to promote a healthy gut as it benefits the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut.
5. Take a prebiotic or probiotic
More often that not, besides changing your eating habits, adding a prebiotic and probiotic supplement to your diet is a great way to improve your gut flora. Prebiotics provide “food” meant to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while probiotics are live good bacteria. However, those who have an overgrowth of bacteria, such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) , aren’t recommended to take probiotics. To gain the best benefit from a prebiotic and probiotic and to choose which works for you, check in with an expert. Show now for a probiotic and prebiotic supplement.
6. Check for food intolerances
If you have symptoms such as cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rashes, nausea, fatigue, and acid reflux, after consuming certain food, you may be suffering from food intolerance. Experiment and find out what you can eat by simply eliminating common trigger foods. Once you have identified the food that’s contributing to your symptoms, you can omit it from your diet and may see a positive change in your digestive health
7. Change your diet
When your gut is at stake, the next course of action is to reduce or remove the amount of processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods from your diet entirely. Switch it out for more plant-based options and lean protein that has a positive impact your gut. A diet high in fiber has been shown to contribute tremendously to a healthy gut microbiome.